Saturday, 08 September 2007

Leadership with an African focus

SOUTH African and foreign CEOs and executives will soon embark on an African Leadership Journey — guided by a blue-chip array of thinkers and practitioners across a broad spectrum of disciplines.

The high-impact journey to the frontiers of contemporary leadership, charted by the Maccauvlei Learning Academy, runs from September 9-14. Edmund Rudman, programme director and manager of the academy’s strategy unit, says African Leadership Journey is about “the shifting tectonic plates of leadership — and how you can understand and use these fundamental changes”.

It is structured to provide insights into the demands of business leadership in contemporary Africa. Facilitators range from world-renowned anthropologist Prof Lee Berger to the holder of a Harvard doctorate in education and now Nedbank HR director, Prof Shirley Zinn. Other high-profile guides include Peter Christie, Kuseni Dlamini, Clem Sunter, Theo van Breda, Johan Viljoen and Kepler Wessels. Also aboard are Dr Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, Dr Azar Jammine, Dr Theo Veldsman and professors Johann Coetzee, Stella Nkomo, Tim Noakes, Sipho Seepe and Harry Seftel.

The programme aims to provide insights to challenge the outlook of the most experienced leaders in business and government.

“It will be particularly beneficial,” says Rudman, “for overseas managers on secondment in SA.” These insights include executive lifestyle or “death style”; the work/life tightrope act; people, passion and performance (including two case studies on how organisations have been turned around in today’s environment); toxic leadership, how to identify it and deal with it; transformation, using it for profit; scenario planning, getting on a high road; and the political scene and leadership.

An economic review will portray the South African economy against that of Africa and the world and give pointers on how SA should proceed.

Travellers will glean perspectives on our evolution and history, starting with how our evolution affects us today, the extent to which we are hardwired, why we’re in the shape we are, and where we’re headed. History teaches about the evolution of political, economic and social systems and, says Rudman, provides “countless, priceless lessons in leadership — good, bad and ugly”.

Diversity (turning the downside up) is another focus area. “Diversity can achieve amazing things,” Rudman says, “but in the business context, how does an organisation go about extracting the benefits and avoiding what can be serious pitfalls?”

Storytelling is a great art in Africa, and its value in business is “doubly powerful”, he says. Those who take the journey will learn why and how. This multidimensional experiential journey makes use of learning logs and feedback sessions. Delegates will share their own leadership experiences.

Participants will be based at Glenburn Lodge, and will visit the Cradle of Humankind, the Sterkfontein Caves and the Apartheid Museum. Entertainment will include drumming and visits to a game reserve and specialist African restaurant.

(c) - Business Day & Mike Holmes

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